A Travel Price Comparison for Colorado Aspen vs. Vail for Skiing, Food, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Aspen or Vail?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Aspen and Vail can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.


Aspen is a charming, quaint, and vibrant ski town. With plenty of activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. This destination also has one of those special and quaint feelings. Visitors also love the nightlife, live music, and food.


Vail is a scenic, vibrant, and upscale ski town. Because it offers so much small town charm with a variety of activities, it attracts plenty of visitors for a good reason. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As it offers a special and quaint atmosphere, visitors come from all over to experience this destination. Other popular activities here include live music, food, and hiking.

Aspen and Vail: Pros and Cons

  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
  • Less popular for food

Is there more to do in Aspen or Vail?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Vail. Although Aspen and Vail are both popular with visitors, Vail has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Vail is more popular for its small town charm and quaint atmosphere, while Aspen is known for its food and music. Vail is more touristy than Aspen and is popular for its world-class skiing, charming mountain town atmosphere, and adventurous outdoor activities. It is also home to The Vail Ski Resort. Aspen is popular for its world-class skiing, many food, film, and music festivals, and its stunning mountain hikes.

How is Aspen different from Vail?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Vail and Aspen. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Skiing?


Aspen and Vail are terrific places to visit for winter sports such as skiing.

Visitors will find world class skiing in Aspen. Near the town, there are 4 separate ski resorts. In town you'll find Aspen Mountain, which is known for it's black-diamond runs. Aspen Highlands, a couple miles away, has a mix of slopes and is less crowded. Buttermilk attracts many freestyle skiers and Aspen Snowmass is considered one of the best family-friendly ski areas.

Vail is a top destination for snow skiing, and it attracts visitors from around the world. This ski town has produced its share of Olympians. Vail is the third largest ski resort in the US and it has 31 lifts and 195 runs. There are five different bowls that offer beautiful views.

Is the Food Better in Aspen or Vail? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


Aspen is a must-visit destination for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Vail is not as popular, but is still a nice ski town for its local cuisine and restaurants.

For foodies, Aspen is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. The town hosts many food festivals and there is a growing selection of diverse restaurants. In town you'll find cafes and restaurants that cater to both the local crowd and the travelers who flock to the area during peak seasons.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Vail area. The town has a diverse sampling of restaurants that include different ethnic options as well as taverns with comfort food. It's easy to find mountain-friendly restaurants where you can refuel during your ski vacation.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Nightlife?


It's hard to distinguish whether Aspen or Vail has a better nightlife scene.

The people in Aspen know how to have a good time. The people in Aspen know how to have a good time. The nightlife scene includes craft beer, live music, and dancing. There's a local vibe, particularly during the off-season times when the tourist crowds are less.

The nightlife in Vail has something for everybody. Happy Hours start early, and then the partying can go late into the night. There are bars, lounges, breweries and live music that keep the atmosphere light and offer entertainment after your long day on the slopes. Do keep in mind that many places close or dramatically reduce their hours during the off-peak fall and spring months.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Music?


Aspen is a great ski town for its live music scene. Also, Vail is not as popular, but is still a nice ski town for its music scene.

Aspen has a thriving music scene. Popular music venues in town include Silver City Mountain Saloon and Belly Up Aspen.

Music lovers will find a few good venues in Vail. You can often find live music at Shakedown Bar, Bridge Street Bar, and the Red Lion.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Resorts?


If luxury resorts are your style, both Aspen and Vail have excellent options.

In Aspen, you'll find some of the region's top resorts. Popular resorts in the area include The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome, and St. Regis Aspen.

There are plenty of resorts in Vail to choose from. Designed as a resort town, Vail offers great accommodation. Nice resorts include Four Seasons Resort and Residences, the Ritz Carlton Club, and the Grand Hyatt.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Hiking?


Both Aspen and Vail are destinations which offer excellent hiking.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Aspen. During the summer and fall seasons, hiking is a great way to explore Aspen's nearby beauty. Popular trails include the Ute Trail, the Lost Man Trail, and the famous Maroon Bells Scenic Trail.

Many visitors go to Vail for the hiking trails. During the warmer months, this resort town is surrounded by world-class hiking trails. You can enjoy the wildflowers, search for wildlife, or take in the sweeping mountain views. Popular hikes near Vail include Booth Falls, Davos Trail, and Shrine Ridge.

Is the Shopping Better in Aspen or Vail?


Shopping is a popular activity in both Vail and Aspen.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Aspen. There are many great local shops and art galleries where you can pick interesting items or fine art.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Vail. The cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques and ski shops that sell everything from evening dresses to outdoor gear. It's easy to pop into the many shops around downtown Vail and find anything you might need.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Christmas?


The Christmas season is a nice time to visit both Aspen and Vail.

Aspen is a world class destination for shoppers. There are a number of beautiful activities that will bring the holiday season to life in the town.

People travel from all around to experience the Christmas season in Vail. The town is a winter wonderland during the holidays. Check out the iconic Christmas tree lighting and wander through the fairytale streets.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Christmas Markets?


Both Aspen and Vail have excellent Christmas markets during the holiday season.

Aspen has a lively atmosphere around its Christmas markets. The town has a charming Christmas market that is fun to explore and has around 40 vendors.

The Christmas markets in Vail offer plenty to see during the holidays. The town's Christmas Market is picturesque, and the perfect place to pick up some unique gifts.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Families?


Vail is renowned for its family-friendly activities. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Vail is an extremely popular ski town to visit for families. With its world class skiing, rock climbing, ice skating, and ice cream, kids love this ski resort. The resort town has two terrain parks - Golden Peak and Avanti. Avanti is perfect for kids. It has small jumps, wide rails, and kid-friendly amenities. Golden Peak is designed for more advanced athletes. Vail also has nice beginner slopes that are great for kids.

Aspen offers lots of family activities. Families that enjoy skiing together, hiking, rock climbing, and having adventures will enjoy a visit to this town. Aspen Mountain is not a great option for beginning skiers, but further away, Aspen Snowmass offers good beginner slopes.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Couples?


Vail is renowned for couples. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Vail is a great ski town for couples, as it has plenty to offer. Couples who enjoy skiing and outdoor adventure will appreciate everything that this ski town has to offer. There are nice restaurants, beautiful gardens, and plenty of romantic activities to choose from.

Aspen is a great ski town if you're traveling as a couple. Aspen is both a popular ski destination as well as an established town. There are many great restaurants and activities that couples can enjoy and the setting is cute and very scenic, making it a beautiful and romantic destination.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Vail is a ski town with good options for backpackers. However, Aspen is a ski town with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Vail is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. This ski town isn't completely closed off to budget travelers as there are a couple of hostels around town.

Aspen is a good destination for this activity. Because it is both a town and a ski resort, there are a couple of more affordable accommodation options. Even so, this is an expensive destination that isn't always ideal for budget travelers.

Is Aspen or Vail Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?


You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Aspen and Vail.

You'll find some public transit in Aspen, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are several shuttle buses around the town.

While Vail offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There is a free bus service through the area.

Is Aspen or Vail a more walkable city?


Vail is renowned for its ease of walking around. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for its walkability.

Getting around Vail on foot is easy. The main downtown is pedestrian-only and perfect for popping in shops and restaurants.

Aspen is very walkable. The town is compact enough that it can be explored on foot. If you're planning to head into the mountains to hike, you'll likely need a car.

Should I spend more time in Vail or Aspen?

How long in Aspen or Vail?

Both Aspen and Vail have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Vail than in Aspen. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Aspen, and 3-7 days is enough time in Vail.

Families should spend more time in Vail than Aspen. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Vail, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Vail than Aspen. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Vail that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Vail than Aspen if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Vail.

  • How many days in Aspen or Vail? Ideal Length of Stay
    Aspen 3-5 
    Vail 3-7

One day in Aspen or Vail?

Aspen is a small town where visitors enjoy the skiing and nightlife. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

In Vail, many people enjoy the nightlife and live music that this charming small town offers. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Lots of people come for the skiing. This ski town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Aspen or Vail?

Aspen is a fun place to experience. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Vail. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Aspen or Vail?

Aspen might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. This ski town offers something for everyone. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

Vail is a fun place to experience. In Vail, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this quaint small town offers. Lots of people come for the skiing. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Aspen or Vail?

Because Aspen is a small town, it's easy to explore in a short amount of time. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

In Vail, many people enjoy the shopping and skiing that this resort-filled small town offers. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the skiing. One week is often enough time to do most activities.

Which place is cheaper, Vail or Aspen?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Aspen is $293, while the average daily cost in Vail is $291. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Aspen and Vail in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Aspen $170
    Vail $174
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Aspen $340
    Vail $348
Compare Hotels in Aspen and Vail

Looking for a hotel in Aspen or Vail? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Aspen

Hotels in Vail

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Aspen Hotel Prices and Vail Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Aspen $56
    Vail $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Vail

Also for Vail, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Transfer in private minivan from Vail city to Denver International Airport (DEN): $330

Is it cheaper to fly into Aspen or Vail?

Prices for flights to both Vail and Aspen change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Aspen $85
    Vail $74

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Aspen $45
    Vail $133

Tours and Activities in Aspen

Here are a few actual costs in Aspen for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Aspen's DarkSide Ghost Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Scenic Walking Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Past to Present Historic Tour: $40
  • City Highlights Walking Tour: $40
  • Dark History Ghost-Themed Guided Walking Tour: $40
  • From Past to Present History Walking Tour: $40
  • Highlights of Aspen Tour: $40

Tours and Activities in Vail

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Vail.

  • Smartphone Driving Tour between Denver & Vail / Breckenridge: $7.99
  • Vail Segway Tour from Vail Village: $89
  • 2-Hour Small-Group Guided Segway Tour: $89
  • Bike Tour or Mountain Bike down Vail Mountain: $120

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Aspen $20
    Vail $9.79

When comparing the travel costs between Aspen and Vail, we can see that Aspen is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

Which is Bigger, Aspen or Vail?

Aspen is bigger, and its population is about 26% larger than the population of Vail. When comparing the population of Aspen vs. Vail, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit and the activities that interest you.

Budget Your Trip is all about finding out how much everything costs so that you can travel cheaper and longer. Created by avid travelers Laurie and Bryan, our goal is to help you plan your next trip on the right budget. With average daily travel costs that are calculated from the budgets of real travelers, plus an analysis of hotel and tour prices, you can find out how much money you need to plan your next adventure. We also have plenty of travel advice, accommodation reviews, and activity suggestions.
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Aspen vs. Vail Travel Comparison

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